It’s shitty, painful and it kills more than breast and prostate combined

Bowel cancer kills more than 1200 New Zealanders a year.

[patient] MacKenzie said doctors dismissed her concerns because she was considered too young to have the disease.

“They just put people in a box.”

This attitude meant some sufferers would slip through the cracks as a result.

After years of being told she had various different problems, MacKenzie said she began to doubt herself.

“You trust the doctors. You trust them and you think they’re doing everything.”

MacKenize is now going through chemotherapy, but has no indication of how long she has left.

She urged people to be vigilant if they knew something was wrong.

“If you have got certain symptoms actually get it checked out.”

With symptoms like rectal bleeding, she acknowledged it could be embarrassing to discuss.

“People don’t want to talk about that kind of thing.”

It’s a very inconvenient place to have cancer.  The pain, the treatment, the incontinence, it all adds up to a pretty horrible life style, and the recovery takes a long, long time.  That’s if it is caught early enough.  

Bowel Cancer New Zealand executive officer Rebekah Heal said people still considered it to be an “older person cancer”.

“They don’t recognise symptoms. It does not occur to them that it could be cancer.

“There is not enough awareness. That is something we are trying to change.”

She also urged people to push their doctors if they did not feel right.

Heal said symptoms were difficult to diagnose because everyone was different.

Bowel cancer is one of New Zealand’s most common cancers and Bowel Cancer New Zealand is calling for a national bowel screening programme and for its age range to increase from 60-74 to 50-74.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include: Bleeding and/or mucous from the bottom; seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel motion; a persistent change in bowel habits, for example, diarrhoea, constipation, going to the toilet more often; a lump or severe pain in the abdomen; and tiredness, anaemia or loss of weight for no particular reason.

Go get it checked out.  Embarrassment is the least of your problems.


– Stuff

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.